A few weeks ago, we went to Beckman's handcrafted show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and found some great new things to carry at FOUND. This week, our orders started to arrive! Chicago jewelry designer Veronica Riley Martens works with colorful beads made from South American tree nuts called tagua. This is a newly popular, eco-friendly material that was previously used to make lovely carved buttons in the early part of 20th century. We've had a variety of vintage tagua buttons at the shop before. The meat of the nut is noted for it's ability to take colorful dyes. In natural form, it resembles ivory from elephant tusks, thus is often referred to as vegetable ivory. It's smoothness makes it easy to carve. When plentiful "modern" plastics became available that could be used to make cheaper buttons, tagua nut use fell from favor during the 1930's. Fortunately, there has been a resurgence of products being made from this plentiful natural material. Veronica includes this info with her jewelry: " Tagua Nut Beads are made from the fuit of a palm tree from the South American rainforests. This eco-friendly product helps sustain rainforests by harvesting a renewable resource without damaging the trees. The use of tagua nuts also provides jobs for over 35,000 people in Ecuador alone. (pronounced TOG-wa)." All the tagua nut jewelry at FOUND is designed by Veronica Riley Martens and handcrafted in Chicago. We love the necklaces, earrings and rings she sent us in a wonderful palette of greens, orange, grey and brown. The material is lightweight and easy to wear. Stop by and see our collection and the sample nut - we think you'll be seeing a revival of the buttons, beads and other products made from the versatile tauga nut in the future!